On Sunday, Egypt unveils a new treasure and rewrites history”, according to famed Egyptologist Zahi Hawass. The Saqqara archaeological site near Cairo, including sarcophagi over 3,000 years old found more than 50 wooden sarcophagi dating to the New Kingdom (16th century BC to 11th century BC) in a burial shaft.
Saqqara is a vast necropolis of the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site home to more than a dozen pyramids, ancient monasteries, and animal burial sites.
A team headed by Hawass made the finds near the pyramid of King Teti, the first pharaoh of the Sixth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom.
More than 50 wooden sarcophagi dating to the New Kingdom (16th century BC to 11th century BC) were found in a burial shaft, Hawass told AFP on Sunday.
“This discovery re-writes the history of Saqqara and more specifically the history of the New Kingdom, which began 3,000 years ago,” he said.
Hawass said his team had discovered a total of 22 shafts, including one containing a “soldier, with his battle axe resting beside him”.
A stone sarcophagus was also found, he added, as well as “a papyrus around five metres long containing the 17th chapter of the book of the dead… masks, wooden boats, games the ancient Egyptians used to play”.
“It is a rare and new discovery because most of the artefacts we found are dated back to the New Kingdom, whereas in Saqqara, it’s usually more around 500 BC,” he added.
A number of objects were displayed to the press on Sunday, while excavations of the site are ongoing.